I cut my RPG teeth on AD&D 1e, so for my first years of gaming I knew nothing but gender based stat limits, especially for strength. Human females couldn't exceed 18/50 in their exceptional strength score (so why even bother rolling the percentiles) and for non-human females, the numbers were worse - they couldn't even hit an 18 (or for halflings, even hit a 15). It's not like the penalty was balanced by an equivalent benefit.
It's too early on a Saturday morning for me to actually break out the books and research it all, but I'm going to guess this first cropped up in the OD&D Greyhawk supplement.
I understand "why" it's there in the AD&D rules - women are the "fairer" sex, but in a fantasy game, does one really need to include such limits?
Were such limits a reaction to the blooming "Women's Liberation Movement" at the time (my mother was an active member until her local chapter started spouting communist ideals)? Was it an reflection that the wargaming and budding RPG hobbies were male domains?
Do any of the OSR clones include gender limits on stats? I don't recall off hand, and again, before breakfast my ability (and drive) to research is minimal ;)
Blame these thoughts on 11 hours of sleep last night - a well rested mind goes off on all sorts of tangents.